Semester Wrap-Up.

Here are the boards from my final presentation:


I placed my work for visual language under the label “food + education” because I thought those two words encompassed what I have been doing it this class throughout the semester. Both projects – one about food waste, the other about flavor profiles – have an educational component to them.

Here are the final labels I created:



and the separate files:


Overall, I enjoyed sifting though these different ingredients and finding the relationships between them. There are so many connections to be made when it comes to these mixes. I would like to keep exploring this topic and look at the cultural and geographic components more closely to find additional connections that will add to the didactic component.


Didactic Packaging.

As I develop my concept, I’ve started to realize that there is a didactic element to it.

Since the spices are already mixed, its hard to apply the information I created about how the flavor profiles harmonize with each other. However, as you pick up each package, you can learn a little more about how flavor profiles work together to create harmony. Perhaps with this information the user will feel more comfortable making their own spice mix next time around.

Here’s what I’ve developed so far:

  1. Poster to be placed in the spice section. It explains which flavor profiles balance and enhance each other. it also includes some examples of each type of flavor profile.


2. Packaging labels with: spice name, color coded flavor profiles, origin, and best uses. Additionally, I included a ‘smell me’ sticker you can peel off and smell the spice mix to get a better understanding of what it will taste like. The back of the packet details what each color represents (and what ingredient falls into which category) and reinforces the balances/enhances information.



The ‘smell me’ sticker has a lighter gray detail to show the user that they can peel it off in order to smell the spice mix.


With these new elements, I decided to revise my statement:


I am developing didactic packaging for spice mixes. Since spice mixes have a long history and tried and true flavor combinations, so they make for perfect teaching examples. Every detail on the packaging gives buyers insight into why these flavor combinations work and incites them to eventually have the autonomy to make their own. In order to make this packaging into a learning experience I incorporated: flavor profiles by predominance, origin (continent/country), uses, ingredient by flavor profile, weight of product, and a smell feature. Together, these elements help users understand the nuances of flavor profiles, what works and what doesn’t. My belief is that through repeated use of these mixes, the user will become increasingly confident in their ability to combine flavors.

Spice Mixes For All.

Selecting a spice mix from a large range of choices can be very overwhelming. I’d like to make the selection process a little more comprehensive and intuitive. While the packaging that Kalustyan’s has now does a good job of providing a description and ingredient lists, it’s still not entirely clear how I can use the spices or what their origin is. Therefore, I’ll be developing a new packaging solution for the spice mixes by incorporating design elements that make them more comprehensible.

I plan to organize the spice mixes by origin and flavor profile (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, spicy) so people will be able to use the appropriate spices for the dish they have in mind. I’d also like to encourage the use of these spices for dishes that are not part of their culture of origin. The idea behind this is to allow whoever is using these spice mixes to be creative when using them, without the constraints of tradition or culture. Finally, I’ll be incorporating a smell feature, where the consumer can feel the aroma of the spice mix before buying it.

In order to make the information more didactic, I started by attributing a flavor profile to each individual ingredient:


I then used this information to show the different flavor profiles in each spice mix. With the information that I have gathered so far I created two visual taxonomies, one for the flavor profiles and the other for the different applications for the spice mixes:


Here are some labels I created using this system:


Kalustyan’s | Further Research

Questions & Answers

  1. What spices do I not know about? What can I learn about them?
    • Fenugreek:
      • Used as an herb (dried or fresh leaves), spice (seeds), and vegetable (fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens)
      • Seeds are frequently encountered in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, used both whole and powdered in the preparation of pickles, vegetable dishes, daals, and spice mixes. They are often roasted to reduce bitterness and enhance flavor.
    • Kalunji (Nigella):
      • Also known as Indian onion seeds.
      • Some call it kala jeera or black cumin.
      • Its used in mathri(hindi), panch phoron (bengali tempering mix), outer coating of samosas and many indian dishes.
    • Piri-Piri Chilli:
      • Pepper that grows in Angola, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the tropical forests of South Sudan and the highlands of Ethiopia. It was brought to Goa, India by the Portuguese.
    • Maras Bibber
      • A chili pepper from Turkey.
      • This chili is traditionally mixed with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and used to season chicken, lamb, and goat dishes as well as vegetables.
  2. What connections can I find between the spice mixes?
    • Salt can only be found in the spices from Europe and the Americas
    • Fennel can only be found in the spices from Africa and the Asia
    • Paprika is present in every continent but Asia
    • Garlic is present in every continent but the M. East
    • Coriander is present in every continent but Europe
    • Piri-Piri Chili is found in both Portuguese and Mozambican spice mixes because Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony
    • Cumin is present in every continent but the M. East
    • I created this chart to illustrate the connections and patterns:
    • fullsizeoutput_1207.jpeg
  3. Are some of these invented by Kalustyan’s or are do they all accurately depict the culinary profiles they represent?
    • I looked up every single one and found a few hits for each. I was especially curious about where the Brazilian spice mix came from, since I did not know about it. I found out this seasoning is specifically used in the Rio Grande do Sul state where they do a barbecuing and grilling. Although I was able to find other versions of the same spice mixes online, I can safely assume these are ‘western’ depictions of the different spice blends, since I was only able to find these combinations in American websites.
  4. What are these mixes generally used for?
    • Portuguese dry rub and seasoning: used for marinating chicken, pork, shrimp or beef.
    • Sicilian Seasoning: Can be used to season red sauce, bread crumbs, or herbed butters
    • Brazilian Spice Mix: Used as a seasoning for mushrooms or a meat rub
    • Cajun Seasoning: Traditionally used to make the dishes gumbo and jambalaya
    • Singapore Seasoning: Used to season fish, pork, chicken, steak and vegetables.
    • Panch Phoron: Traditionally, panch phoron is used to season vegetables, chicken or beef curry, fish, lentils, shukto and in pickles.
    • Turkish Seasoning: Used for seasoning meats from kabobs to roasts, lamb to beef to chicken.
    • Kabsa Spice Mix: Used to make Saudi national dish ‘Al-Kabsa’, a rice and chicken dish served with fresh cucumber, carrots, lettuce and tomato salad and a hot sauce called ‘Shattah’.
    • Ras El Hanout: Plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine. It is used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice.
    • African Piri-Piri Seasoning: Used for dry rub on meat chicken and fish.
  5. Where are the most popular spices(5+) grown ? How does that correlate to where they are used?
    • Paprika (Portugal | Italy | Brazil | USA | Turkey | Mozambique): Produced in Hungary, Serbia, Spain, the Netherlands, China, and some regions of the United States
    • Cumin (Portugal | Brazil | USA | Singapore | Bengal | Turkey | Morocco): The main producer of cumin is India. Other producers are Syria, Iran, and Turkey.
    • Cinnamon (Portugal | Brazil | Singapore | Turkey | Morocco): Sri Lanka produces the world’s supply of one species of cinnamon (c. verum)  which is also cultivated on a commercial scale in Seychelles and Madagascar. The second species is produced by Indonesia, with significant production in China. India and Vietnam are also minor producers.
    • Black Pepper (Portugal | Brazil | Singapore | Turkey | Saudi Arabia | Morocco): Black pepper is native to south India and is extensively cultivated there . Currently, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter.
    • Allspice (Portugal | Brazil | Turkey | Saudi Arabia | Morocco):  Native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America, now cultivated in many warm parts of the world.
    • Coriander (Brazil | Singapore | Turkey | Saudi Arabia | Morocco): Russia, India, South America,  Morocco and Holland.
    • Fennel (Singapore | Bengal | Turkey | Saudi Arabia | Morocco): Fennel has become naturalized along roadsides, in pastures, and in other open sites in many regions, including northern Europe, the United States, southern Canada, and much of Asia and Australia.

Object List & Attributes

Portuguese dry rub and seasoning:
Attributes: Made up of Paprika, salt, cumin, piri-piri chili powder & flakes, cinnamon, lemon peel, black pepper, parsley, oregano, bay leaf, ginger, allspice, cloves. Flavor profile: Spicy, spiced and herbal.
Description: Commonly used in Portuguese culture. Used for marinating chicken, pork, shrimp or beef.

Sicilian Seasoning:
Attributes: Made up of Paprika, Salt, Onion, Garlic Lemon Oil. Flavor profile: Herbal, lightly smoky.
Description: Can be used to season red sauce, bread crumbs, or herbed butters. Common flavor profile for Sicily an island located in Italy.

Brazilian Spice Mix:
Attributes: Paprika, ginger, salt, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander seed, coriander leaf, all spice, cinnamon, pepper, chili. Flavor profile: Spiced, salty and smoky.
Description: Used as a seasoning for a mushroom dish or use as a meat rub. Common to the southern region of Brazil.

Cajun Seasoning:
Attributes: Paprika, hot paprika, mustard, garlic, cumin, thyme, oregano, salt. Flavor profile: Spicy and smoky.
Description: Traditionally used to make the dishes gumbo and jambalaya. This type of flavor profile is used mostly in Louisiana and is a combination of country-style french and southern cuisines.

Singapore Seasoning:
Turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, black pepper, garlic, lemon peel, cumin, onion, white pepper, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, citric acid, red pepper, nutmeg, ginger. Flavor profile: Spiced, citrusy, curry-like flavors.
Description: Used to season fish, pork, chicken, steak and vegetables. Includes a lot of curry spices, due to Singapore’s close commercial and cultural relations with India.

Panch Phoron:
: Cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek, kalunji (nigella). Flavor profile: Spiced, curry-like flavors.
Description: Traditionally, panch phoron is used to season vegetables, chicken or beef curry, fish, lentils, shukto and in pickles. The name literally means “five spices” in Bengali. It is also used in Bangladesh, Eastern India and Southern Nepal, Mithila of Nepal, Assam and Oriya cuisine.

Turkish Seasoning:
cloves, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, paprika, cardamom, Turkish maras bibber, Turkish oregano, cayenne, cilantro. Flavor profile: Smoky, sweet and pungent.
Description Used for seasoning meats from kabobs to roasts, lamb to beef to chicken. Maras bibber is a chili pepper grown and used in Turkish cuisine.

Kabsa Spice Mix:
 Black pepper, turmeric, coriander, fennel, allspice, cardamom, dried lime powder. Flavor profile: Herbal, citrusy and lightly spiced
Used to make Saudi national dish ‘Al-Kabsa’, a rice and chicken dish served with fresh cucumber, carrots, lettuce and tomato salad and a hot sauce called ‘Shattah’

Ras El Hanout:
: Coriander, cumin, fennel, allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, rose petal, turmeric, lavender. Flavor profile: Spicy, spiced and herbal
Description: Translates to ‘top of the shop’ in Arabic. Plays a similar role in North African cuisine as garam masala does in Indian cuisine. It is used in many savory dishes, sometimes rubbed on meat or fish, or stirred into couscous or rice.

African Piri-Piri Seasoning:
Attributes: Piri-piri chili, paprika, oregano, garlic, ginger, onion, salt, chili flakes, cardamom. Flavor profile: Spicy smoky and herbal
Description: Used for dry rub on meat chicken and fish. The piri-piri chili traditionally grows in Africa but has become a staple of Portuguese cuisine from the time that Mozambique was a Portuguese colony.

Insight Statement

Food is a reflection of culture. I would like to find out what the ingredients in each spice mix say about the specific cultures that they intend to represent. I will do this by looking at the history and context of each in order to understand how and why these spices are used in these specific combinations.

2nd Try: Kalustyan’s

I was having trouble with my first selection so I decided to give it another shot. I haven’t given up on the food theme so I decided to approach it in a different way. I went to Kalustyan’s, a store that sells a wide variety of international goods:


I enjoy cooking, so I was instantly drawn to the incredible variety of spice mixes they had. So many countries were being represented through their cuisine and spice mixes, it was overwhelming. I decided to pick the ones I was the most unfamiliar with so I could hopefully get a glimpse into new cultures through their cuisine. This was the final selection:


I followed by separating them by countries:


Then continents:


After I was able to organize them via geography, I decided to look at the separate ingredients of each one and looked at the ones the different spice mixes had in common:


Since I still had 18 I decided to reduce it to 2 spice mixes per continent, based on the connections I made from the last step:


Project 2 | Collecting Objects

For this project I decided to visit the Union Square Farmer’s Market. While my original intention was to catalogue the different types of food you can find there, I ended up being drawn to the signs the different shops had.

I organized them according to how they were made (digitally or handmade) and the surfaces they were created on:



Crooked Carrots Are Our Friends: The Book.

In creating my book, I wanted to incorporate the elements I discovered in my creative process: crookedness, flaws, asymmetry, and the color orange.

I chose a typeface that looks hand written as my display type since it has a similar aesthetic to my coded language. My body text is a neutral sans-serif, in order to prevent the layout from becoming too busy.

I went ahead and included the progression of my print pieces and new coded language in the book.

Feel free to page through below: